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European Justification Of Colonization Of Asia And Africa

802 words - 3 pages

The principle justification offered by the Europeans for their colonization of Asia & Africa was the moral and technological superiority of the western world. As the Europeans saw it, the spread of the European way of life would substantially increase living standards for the colonized. While economic reasons were obviously the primary impetus for colonial expansion, the Europeans believed that they were not only improving the natives’ conditions, but they were saving their mortal souls by bringing Christianity to them. Over time, the technologically advanced way of life came to be associated with Europe, and with Europeans. This is the cause of the racist and social Darwinist undertones in the documents.

First, Europeans use religion as a justification for colonization. This has been used many times before, specifically when Spain colonized Latin and South America. In Document 6, Mr. Patton notes that some islands in the Pacific are Christianizing, and Britain ought to encourage that. Countries in Europe felt that it was their obligation to expose indigenous people to their religious system because it would give them salvation. Missionaries often went to islands with the sole purpose of religious indoctrination of the natives, but left a colonized and westernized island behind. Christian missionaries may have had benign motives, but the presence of missionaries was the first step to ‘opening’ a colony. Economic exploitation typically followed presence of missionaries. While religion isn’t mentioned frequently in the documents, religion underscores most justifications for colonization. For example, cartoon 4 indicates that it is ‘the white man’s burden’ to bring natives to school, in order to receive a proper education. However, the education that the colonizers extend to the colonized had its own purpose. The education was quite western-friendly, and education probably went a long way in ensuring the long term stability and profitability of the colonized nation.

The second justification is the welfare of the colonized nation. According to the majority of the documents given, assimilation into the world economy boosted the economy of the colonized nation, thus increasing the general well-being in said nation. Additionally, the colonizing nation would spread new technology, including things like medicine and agricultural technology. Of course, the colonizer would not just hand out...

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